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Citizen Voices Editor Picks Human Rights

What About Bigotry In Pakistan? A Citizen’s Open Letter To PM Khan

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I hope you are doing well and the atmosphere around Bani Gala is good. Today, we are confronting a growing concern and restlessness amongst those who long for to proudly call this country as Jinnah’s Pakistan. The concern builds around the rising tide of continuous violation of human rights and denying of rights to practice free will and religion to the minorities of the country. The recent incidents of chanting hateful slogans against the Shias in rallies that were conducted in the Capital of the country, the victim blaming by a senior police officer after a woman was raped on the motorway, the spraying of Dr Salam’s poster and the trip of a few journalists to the Northern Areas are a reflection of this increasing distance of our country from the homeland that Jinnah imagined.

In addition, in our country, some Hindu temples are being demolished and there is a great uproar whenever building a new one is brought under discussion. Hindu girls are being abducted and are being converted to forcefully. They are often married off to men three times their age and their families are left to mourn. Very recently, 13 years old Arzoo Raja was forcefully converted and married to a 44 year old man. The courts justified the act as a legal act despite the legislation that bar forced conversions and marriages under the age of 18. I believe the leadership of our country, including you, often act out of lack of understanding of the intrinsic deep passion, love and devotion Hindus have for their religion. 

Other minorities like the Ahmedis, Parsis, Christians etc. are being denied basic rights to practice their faiths peacefully. Their graves are desecrated, places of worship are attacked, and their community members are looked upon and treated as second class citizens. Your government backed out on a world class Ahmedi economist Atif Mian just to please the clerics of the country. Many members of these minorities are in jails due to made up cases of blasphemy and to add to the misery, they are even denied the right to get a bail. The government’s silence over these issues result in further marginalisation of these communities and their suffering becomes perpetual.

Women of our country, who constitute about half of our population face continuous struggles and have to plead for their basic rights every day. Workplace harassment, groping in public, domestic violence, incidents of gang rapes, honour killings or the targeting of female journalists and the silence of those like you who are in a position of power to bring a change is a testimony to how strongly protected the institutions of Patriarchy are.

The time has come for you and other leaders of the country to introspect and look what is happening in our own country. Instead of fighting cases at global level, it will be better if you try to make this country a better one to live in. Your people are suffering, they look up to you. You can not be a true leader unless you know who to lead. Your men are dying of hunger, they are being killed in the name of religion, they are being denied basic human rights. It’s very unfortunate that you have turned a deaf ear to most of the issues that our country is facing. The world mocks us when we talk about what wrong happens in other countries because we do worse in our own. 

May you be the person you think you are.

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Naya Daur